Vegan Hoisin Mushroom Gua Baos – homemade fluffy steamed buns filled with hoisin mushrooms. Another option is to fill these with maple hoisin tofu for those of you who’d prefer tofu instead!
The mushrooms are cooked in hoisin sauce which makes them super tasty and umami and paired them with some pickled carrots and cucumber.
I also added some homemade vegan kimchi for that extra flavour and bite.
I finished off these buns with some chopped spring onion and peanuts for that extra crunch.
WHAT ARE GUA BAOS?
Gua baos are steamed stuffed buns or bao buns. I think what makes these really distinct is how they face open (like a tacos) unlike the usual steamed pork buns you may see that are twisted and sealed at the top throughout.
The gua baos I grew up with were filled with pork belly and usually mustard greens along with some peanuts. They were these fluffy steamed buns that we’d open up and stuff with the pork belly, greens, and mustard greens and we’d enjoy these like a sandwich. Here at home, my mom would actually have frozen steamed buns or gua bao buns for whenever we’d have pork belly or other pork stew dishes that my dad would like to stuff in these buns.
This vegan version is instead filled with mushrooms (or tofu) that I cooked with a hoisin sauce. It’s a slightly different take and I guess what I love about these buns is how you can customise the fillings to your liking!
MAKING THE STEAMED BUNS FROM SCRATCH
I made the buns from scratch and they’re actually really simple. You’ll just of course need time to let them rise and proof before rolling out, folding, and then steaming them!
PREPARING THE DOUGH IN A BOWL
Knead until smooth
Leave to rise
HOW TO MAKE THE BUNS
You can also watch the video below on how to make the steamed buns!
Divide the dough
Roll out each piece:
Brush with oil then fold in half:
PROOF THE BUNS AND THEN STEAM
Proof the buns in batches and then steam!
FILLING THE STEAMED BAO BUNS
ADD YOUR FILLINGS OF CHOICE
I grew up eating gua baos that were usually filled with braised pork belly and pickled mustard greens with some peanuts and sugar. I also love a gua bao I get from a local vegetarian restaurant that makes it with crispy tofu skin with pickled mustard greens, chili, and some sugary chopped peanuts.
My version is filled with deliciously savoury and sweet mushrooms that I cooked down in some hoisin sauce and maple syrup.
The mushrooms are well complemented by the acidity of the pickled carrots and cucumber while the kimchi adds that nice crunch and spice too.
OTHER GUA BAO FILLING OPTIONS:
YOU CAN GET VERY CREATIVE WITH YOUR CHOICE OF FILLING
HERE ARE OTHER FILLING SUGGESTIONS:
Below is a photo of maple hoisin tofu that I also used as filling for my gua baos! They’re similar to how I prepare my mushrooms but using extra firm tofu in a really savoury and sweet glaze.
This is my other version of gua baos filled with the maple hoisin tofu!
STORING THE STEAMED BUNS
These were so fun to put together, and also kind of reminded me of tacos when I ate them.You can also prepare the steamed buns in advanced and just refrigerate or even freeze them.
You can find the full recipe for these gua baos, pickled veg, and hoisin mushrooms below!
OTHER VEGAN RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
- Sundubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- Kimchi Pancakes or Kimchi Jeon
- Filipino Kaldereta or ‘Meat’ Stew
- Tantanmen (Vegan Ramen)
- Kimchi Noodle Soup with Dumplings
- Thai Tom Yum Soup
- Filipino Lumpiang Gulay or Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Filipino “Pork” Barbecue
- Japanese Chahan or Fried Rice
- Crispy Eggplant Katsu
- Chinese-Style Bolognese
- Ginger and Scallion Noodles
- Chili Garlic Oil Noodles
- Mie Goreng (Indonesian Fried Noodles)
Are you looking for more delicious, vegan recipes?
You can get a copy of my cookbook, Vegan Asian!
If you crave vegan-friendly versions of classic Asian dishes, this cookbook is packed with Southeast and East Asian dishes inspired by those I grew up enjoying at home and those I’ve tried from my travels. From iconic Thai dishes to piping-hot Japanese fare and everything in between, the recipes in this will take your palate on a delicious food trip across Asia, and hopefully keep you coming back for more!
If you try out this recipe, I’d appreciate if you leave a rating or simply click on the stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on my recipe card!
Hoisin Mushroom Gua Baos
- Bamboo Steamer (see notes if you don't have one)
- Parchment paper, for lining
- Rolling pin, I used a small dumpling rolling pin
Pickled Carrots and Cucumber
Other Fillings and Toppings
- Vegan Kimchi homemade recipe here
- Chopped roasted peanuts
- Chopped spring onions
Pickled Carrots and Cucumber
- Discard the seeds and pit of the cucumber. Peel the carrot. Very thinly slice the cucumber and carrots.
- You can skip the following step and jump immediately to placing the veggies in the vinegar mix. But I find that draining the liquid yields better tasting pickled veg since they're drained of their liquid!Place the carrot and cucumber in a colander. Place a bowl under to catch the liquid. Add the coarse salt and mix into the carrot and cucumber mixture. Leave to sit for at least 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Wash the cucumber and carrot through running water to wash off the salt and then squeeze out to drain excess liquid.
- While the veggies are being soaked in the salt (if doing so), mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix well until the sugar dissolves. Adjust seasoning based on desired sweetness and sourness.
- Add in the cucumber and carrots. Mix well and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. You can prepare this the day before and refrigerate it until ready to use. This way it’s also more flavourful!
- Slice the mushrooms into strips or batons.
- Heat a non-stick pan. Heat some oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in the garlic. Sauté until lightly brown and then add in the mushrooms. Pour in the hoisin sauce and maple syrup or other sweetener. Mix well and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and release some water. Sprinkle chinese five spice or pepper and mix well. Turn off heat and set aside.Alternatively, you can also try out my maple hoisin tofu for the filling!
Preparing the Dough
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Place the soy milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at high for 25-30 seconds (note that this can vary depending on your microwave) until the milk is around 42C/110F. It should be warm to the touch but will not burn you. If it’s too hot, leave to cool for a few minutes.
- Mix in the sugar and yeast into the warm milk. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes until it foams up. When it’s foamy, mix in the oil.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. While mixing, pour in the yeast and milk mixture.
- Keep mixing until a dough is formed. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth. You can opt to knead it in the bowl if your bowl is large enough to minimise the mess, or you can place it on a lightly floured surface.
- Scrape off the flour on the sides of the bowl if needed. I like to use my hands to knead everything together. Keep kneading until the dough is stretchy and no longer sticks to your hands. You'll have a smooth ball of dough. The gluten bonds will strengthen as the dough is kneaded.
- Shape the dough into a ball, then place it back in the bowl. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Forming the Buns
- Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Punch your thumb into the center to create a hole. Slowly pinch and form the sides to create a larger hole before slowly pulling apart the sides to create a large ring (see video).
- Slice the ring of dough into 12 pieces, each around 40 grams.
- Place the pieces in a bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you work on each piece.
- Only 4 pieces fit in my bamboo steamer so I only prepare 4 pieces at a time.
- Roll a piece of dough into a ball and then lightly flatten on a floured surface. With a rolling pin or small dumpling rolling pin (which I used), roll the dough until you have an oval that’s around 3 by 4 to 4.5”.
- Brush the dough with some oil then fold into half. Transfer on a sheet of parchment paper and into the bamboo basket. Cover the dough and leave to proof for another 15-20 minutes.
- Repeat this step for the rest of the dough and work in batches as needed, depending on how many can fit your steamer.
Cooking the Buns
- If you don't have a bamboo steamer, see the notes below.
- Heat a large pan or wok, enough to fit the bamboo steamer. Add enough water that it touches the bottom edge of the steamer. Make sure the water doesn’t reach the parchment paper and buns!
- Place the steamer on the pan. Leave the water to boil over medium high heat. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and leave the buns to steam for 8-10 minutes. Note: I highly recommend to keep your heat at medium to medium low. Anything too hot may cause the buns to inflate too fast and then deflate. While too low of a heat can yield raw/uncooked buns. This may take some trial and error depending on the type of cooking stove you have.
- Afterwards, DO NOT open the steamer immediately. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes before taking the cooked buns out of the steamer.If you open it too soon, the buns can deflate from the sudden change in temperature. When you do transfer the buns from the steamer after 10 minutes, cover the cooked buns with a towel so it doesn’t quickly cool and dry out.
- Shape more buns and then leave to proof in the bamboo basket. Steam the next batch. Repeat this for the rest.
Storing the Buns
- Place the buns in a freezer-safe container. Line each one with the used parchment paper to avoid them from sticking.
- You can freeze the buns and reheat them by steaming from frozen until fluffy. No need to thaw from frozen.
Assembling the Gua Bao
- Carefully open a bun. Add in the pickled veggies, mushrooms, and kimchi (if using). Finish off with some chopped green onions and peanuts if desired. Enjoy!